January 16, 2012

Spiritual retreats needed

Occasionally I’ve had personal retreats. I go away from home to a place with less distractions, sometimes a library. However, even there, the books threaten to draw me away from the Lord. Once I paid $10 for a room at a retreat center. This was ideal, totally silent and peaceful. I’ve not done this for awhile though, and today’s devotional offers a verse and a brief thought that urge me to plan more of these.
Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24:18)
The reading points out that a life of fellowship with God cannot be built up in a day. It begins with a habitual time with Him, then even referring to Him hour by hour, as Moses did in Egypt. For me, this began with having personal devotions every day. In the past forty years, I remember missing only one. Daily communion with God in His Word and through prayer is a vital part of being a Christian.

Yet I cannot rest there or be content with just that daily habit. For one thing, it can become rote, a duty, a mere habit and not a vital and meaningful time. For me, diligence is required to make this truly a fellowship with God, not a writing exercise nor an entry in a blog.

As the reading says, this fellowship moves on to more often and longer periods of communion. Although I’ve learned to meditate throughout the day on each morning’s devotional blessings and challenges, there is much room in my life for growth in this. I’d like the idea of “hour by hour” to be more consistent. I’d also like more extended times, like those retreats.

However, the dozen or so retreats that I’ve had are not nearly enough. Not only that, the way I’ve done these retreats is suspect. For most, I’ve made and relied on an agenda. That is, I plan a certain period of time for Bible reading, time for confession, praise etc. While this keeps me on target and out of the book stacks in the library, it seems that these meetings with God should be less by the clock, more spontaneous and totally heartfelt.

Today’s reading adds that this increased time with God “should find its consummation and bliss in days and nights of intercession,” waiting on and having holy interaction with the Lord. I’m not there yet, but in this reading and in these verses, I hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Come, come.”

Lord, even though You ‘never leave or forsake me’ and I am most always aware of Your presence, I need to spend more time exclusively devoted to You. Forgive me for letting this lapse, replacing it with distractions and busyness. Grant me the grace needed to more often draw near in full attention to You.

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